Angkor Wat is one of Asia’s leading tourist attractions and the Cambodians have learnt how to make the most of their asset.
A visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site is not cheap. A one-day entrance ticket costs USD20 per head. On top of that, the taxi drivers at the airport make out that the only way to get round this massive complex (400 sq.km.) is by taxi/mini bus for which you are charged another USD30. Then you need a guide for whose services you can expect to pay USD25 or so. So for two of us I ended up paying about USD100 which is a lot of money to see what my Mum would describe as ‘a pile of old bricks’.
Still I would not have missed it and as Cambodia is a poor country it is good to spread some money around.
However if I were to go again or advise someone else, I would rent a bike in Siem Reap, which is only 6km away, for USD1.50 per day and cycle round the complex rather than hiring a driver. That way you have more freedom to go as you please, you will probably see more than you would in the van and you get some exercise too. Also I would recommend visiting the excellent Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap the day before you go to Angkor Wat. The museum will teach all the background you need to enjoy your temple trip and you can dispense with the guide. Or, if you don’t want to fork out the steep USD12 Museum entrance fee you could just buy a guide book.
There are a couple of hundred temples, pagodas and ruins within the Angkor Archeological Park of which only one is called Angkor Wat. On our day trip we visited just 3 temples (though actually that was enough for me and my son). These 3 were the popular favourites: the main Angkor Wat, the so-called jungle temple or Ta Prohm and Angkor Thom which includes the famous Bayon temple.
Here are a couple of photos of each.
Angkor Thom (east gate) and Bayon Temple
It is well worth visiting if you haven’t already. There is a lot of restoration work going on so you could argue that the longer you leave it the better it will get.